Friday, December 03, 2004

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all

(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmas time at all

Feed the world, feed the world, feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time again

Do They Know Its Christmas

Band Aid, 1984

So, its been 20 years since Bob Geldoff and his friends recorded the song that led to Live Aid and raised millions of dollars for the starving masses of Ethipoia. The memories it brings back are numerous and deep. I can, with crystal clear vision, remember hearing it the first time on a moonlit, cold, snowy night in New Jersey. Gathered with my friends in front of the TV watching the MTV premiere (when MTV was about music and videos).

The haunting opening bass notes. Hearing each early 80's superstar sing their individual parts. The cresecendo of Bono singing "Tonight thank God its them instead of you." The catchy chorus.

Its still one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time but more importantly its message rings true 20 years later. It was a blunt, sometimes unwieldy and not always smooth song but its message could not have been clearer. WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS WORLD. THERE IS GREAT SUFFERING IN THIS WORLD. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOU HAVE

At that time (I was 15) I had already developed a deep sense of social, political and world awareness, perhaps far ahead of my age and time and this message really struck home with me. I was a young punk who grew up on The Clash, The Ramones, The Jam and all the rest and the message of the song was a natural extension of my growing socio-political consciousness.

In the end it inspired me top go to work for Amnesty International and as a volunteer with a major Anti-Apartheid organization. Two years later I shared a stage with and was honored by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I have a fulfilling professional career today, but I have never slackened in helping others near and far. Much of my activism can be traced back to that song.

So, today, as we head into the heart of the Christmas season. I hope everyone reading this can remember, we are not alone, people suffer greatly here and abroad, we can make a difference every day through small actions and words, and to be grateful for all we have.

I am grateful for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, the food in my stomach, my health, my job, my family, friends, my brains. I have everything I need and a lot of what I want. My problems are of the champagne and caviar variety.

Today I will live and act with compassion and love and I will help someone near me and someone far away. I know its Christmas time again.

Thank you Bob Geldoff and the whole Band Aid crew.